Latest Articles

Open AccessReview
Recent Advances in Nanoparticle-Mediated Delivery of Anti-Inflammatory Phytocompounds
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(4), 709; doi:10.3390/ijms18040709 -
Abstract
Phytocompounds have been used in medicine for decades owing to their potential in anti-inflammatory applications. However, major difficulties in achieving sustained delivery of phyto-based drugs are related to their low solubility and cell penetration, and high instability. To overcome these disadvantages, nanosized delivery
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Phytocompounds have been used in medicine for decades owing to their potential in anti-inflammatory applications. However, major difficulties in achieving sustained delivery of phyto-based drugs are related to their low solubility and cell penetration, and high instability. To overcome these disadvantages, nanosized delivery technologies are currently in use for sustained and enhanced delivery of phyto-derived bioactive compounds in the pharmaceutical sector. This review focuses on the recent advances in nanocarrier-mediated drug delivery of bioactive molecules of plant origin in the field of anti-inflammatory research. In particular, special attention is paid to the relationship between structure and properties of the nanocarrier and phytodrug release behavior. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Performance of Hybrid Photocatalytic-Ceramic Membrane System for the Treatment of Secondary Effluent
Membranes 2017, 7(2), 20; doi:10.3390/membranes7020020 -
Abstract
Evaluation of an advanced wastewater treatment system that combines photocatalysis with ceramic membrane filtration for the treatment of secondary effluent was undertaken. The results showed that, after photocatalysis and ceramic membrane filtration, the removal of dissolved organic carbon and UV254 was 60%
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Evaluation of an advanced wastewater treatment system that combines photocatalysis with ceramic membrane filtration for the treatment of secondary effluent was undertaken. The results showed that, after photocatalysis and ceramic membrane filtration, the removal of dissolved organic carbon and UV254 was 60% and 54%, respectively, at a concentration of 4 g/L of TiO2. Dissolved organic matter (DOM) present in the secondary effluent was characterised with a liquid chromatography-organic carbon detector (LC-OCD) technique. The results showed low removal of humics, building blocks, the other oxidation by-products and no removal of biopolymers after TiO2/UV photocatalytic treatment. This suggested that the radical non-selective oxidation mechanisms of TiO2/UV process resulted in secondary effluent in which all of the DOM fractions were present. However, the hybrid system was effective for removing biopolymers with the exception of low molecular weight (LMW) compounds acids, which accumulated from the beginning of the reaction. In addition, monitoring of the DOM fractions with LC-OCD analysis demonstrated that the reduction of the effluent aromaticity was not firmly correlated with the removal of humic substances for the combined processes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Performance of an Energy Efficient Low Power Stepper Converter
Energies 2017, 10(4), 445; doi:10.3390/en10040445 -
Abstract
This paper presents the development of an energy efficient low power stepper converter. A prototype with a hydraulic output power of ≈600 W was designed, manufactured, investigated and improved. The converter consists of a hydraulic cylinder piston unit controlled by a fast switching
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This paper presents the development of an energy efficient low power stepper converter. A prototype with a hydraulic output power of ≈600 W was designed, manufactured, investigated and improved. The converter consists of a hydraulic cylinder piston unit controlled by a fast switching valve to displace a defined fluid quantum by the limited forward stroke of the piston in its cylinder. The displaced fluid generates a precise, incremental motion of a load cylinder which should be controlled. Energy saving is achieved by storing the pressure surplus intermediately in the kinetic energy of the piston to displace a part of the fluid quantum without hydraulic energy from the supply line. Energy recuperation can be done in a similar way. Simulations and experiments showed two main efficiency improvement measures of the first converter prototype. The weak points were the commercially available check valves and the used guidance system for the pistons. The second part of the paper reports about the development of a fast check valve and of a combined hydrostatic hydrodynamic bearing system based on the elastic deformation of plastics. The theoretical and experimental results show a significant improvement of the energy efficiency, the potential of this drive technology and further improvement potential. Expressed in terms of numbers an energy efficiency increase compared to a resistance control up to 30% and a maximum recuperation energy efficiency over 60% were measured. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Factor VII Deficiency: Clinical Phenotype, Genotype and Therapy
J. Clin. Med. 2017, 6(4), 38; doi:10.3390/jcm6040038 -
Abstract
Factor VII deficiency is the most common among rare inherited autosomal recessive bleeding disorders, and is a chameleon disease due to the lack of a direct correlation between plasma levels of coagulation Factor VII and bleeding manifestations. Clinical phenotypes range from asymptomatic condition—even
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Factor VII deficiency is the most common among rare inherited autosomal recessive bleeding disorders, and is a chameleon disease due to the lack of a direct correlation between plasma levels of coagulation Factor VII and bleeding manifestations. Clinical phenotypes range from asymptomatic condition—even in homozygous subjects—to severe life-threatening bleedings (central nervous system, gastrointestinal bleeding). Prediction of bleeding risk is thus based on multiple parameters that challenge disease management. Spontaneous or surgical bleedings require accurate treatment schedules, and patients at high risk of severe hemorrhages may need prophylaxis from childhood onwards. The aim of the current review is to depict an updated summary of clinical phenotype, laboratory diagnosis, and treatment of inherited Factor VII deficiency. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Outcome of Clinical Trials with New Extended Half-Life FVIII/IX Concentrates
J. Clin. Med. 2017, 6(4), 39; doi:10.3390/jcm6040039 -
Abstract
The development of a new generation of coagulation factors with improved pharmacokinetic profile will change the paradigm of treatment of persons with hemophilia (PWH). The standard treatment in PWH is represented by regular long-term prophylaxis that, given intravenously twice or thrice weekly, is
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The development of a new generation of coagulation factors with improved pharmacokinetic profile will change the paradigm of treatment of persons with hemophilia (PWH). The standard treatment in PWH is represented by regular long-term prophylaxis that, given intravenously twice or thrice weekly, is associated with a not-negligible burden on patients’ quality of life. The availability of drugs with improved pharmacokinetic profile may improve prophylaxis feasibility and protection against bleeding episodes. This article summarizes the main results obtained from clinical trials with modified factor VIII (FVIII) and factor IX (FIX) molecules. Published literature on new molecules for replacement treatment in hemophilia A and B was retrieved using PubMed search, and all ongoing clinical trials have been researched via www.clinicaltrials.gov. Such new molecules are usually engineered to have a longer plasma half-life than that which has been obtained by chemical modification (i.e., conjugation with polyethylene glycol, PEG) or by creating recombinant fusion proteins. Results from phase I/III studies in previously treated adults and children are now available for the vast majority of new products, including the results of their use in a surgical setting. On the contrary, trials involving previously untreated patients are still ongoing for all and results not yet available. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Haemocompatibility of Modified Nanodiamonds
Materials 2017, 10(4), 352; doi:10.3390/ma10040352 -
Abstract
This study reports the interactions of modified nanodiamond particles in vitro with human blood. Modifications performed on the nanodiamond particles include oxygenation with a chemical method and hydrogenation upon chemical vapor deposition (CVD) plasma treatment. Such nanodiamonds were later incubated in whole human
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This study reports the interactions of modified nanodiamond particles in vitro with human blood. Modifications performed on the nanodiamond particles include oxygenation with a chemical method and hydrogenation upon chemical vapor deposition (CVD) plasma treatment. Such nanodiamonds were later incubated in whole human blood for different time intervals, ranging from 5 min to 5 h. The morphology of red blood cells was assessed along with spectral measurements and determination of haemolysis. The results showed that no more than 3% of cells were affected by the nanodiamonds. Specific modifications of the nanodiamonds give us the possibility to obtain nanoparticles which are biocompatible with human blood. They can form a basis for the development of nanoscale biomarkers and parts of sensing systems and devices useful in biomedical environments. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Framework for Stacked-Benefit Analysis of Distribution-Level Energy Storage Deployment
Inventions 2017, 2(1), 6; doi:10.3390/inventions2010006 -
Abstract
This paper presents a planning framework for integrating energy storage (ES) systems into the distribution system. An ES system is deployed to simultaneously provide multiple benefits, also known as stacked-benefits, for the feeder. The primary and secondary application scenarios for the feeder are
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This paper presents a planning framework for integrating energy storage (ES) systems into the distribution system. An ES system is deployed to simultaneously provide multiple benefits, also known as stacked-benefits, for the feeder. The primary and secondary application scenarios for the feeder are identified. The proposed ES deployment approach includes the following steps: (1) size the ES system for primary application; (2) identify optimal ES locations based on both primary and secondary application scenarios; (3) calculate the ES accommodation capacity for each potential location; and (4) develop control methods for ES units and conduct grid impact analysis to demonstrate ES applications. For the selected feeder, the primary application for ES deployment is to provide the N-1 contingency requirement. During normal operating conditions, ES is programmed for multiple secondary applications: voltage management and ancillary services by frequency regulation. A probabilistic approach is presented to obtain the optimal ES size for providing the N-1 contingency requirement. Optimal ES locations are obtained based on secondary application scenarios. Real and reactive power control methods are developed to demonstrate the viability of deploying an ES system for simultaneously providing multiple applications. The simulation results show that ES can successfully provide the stacked-benefits for the distribution circuit. The proposed framework is generic and can be employed for the ES integration analysis of any feeder, with different sets of primary and secondary applications. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Design and Mechanical Properties Analysis of AA5083 Ultrafine Grained Cams
Metals 2017, 7(4), 116; doi:10.3390/met7040116 -
Abstract
This present research work deals with the development of ultrafine grained cams obtained from previously ECAP (Equal Channel Angular Pressing)-processed material and manufactured by isothermal forging. The design and the manufacturing of the dies required for the isothermal forging of the cams are
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This present research work deals with the development of ultrafine grained cams obtained from previously ECAP (Equal Channel Angular Pressing)-processed material and manufactured by isothermal forging. The design and the manufacturing of the dies required for the isothermal forging of the cams are shown. Optimization techniques based on the combination of design of experiments, finite element and finite volume simulations are employed to develop the dies. A comparison is made between the mechanical properties obtained with the cams manufactured from material with no previous deformation and with those from previously SPD (Severe Plastic Deformation)-processed material. In addition, a comparative study between the experimental results and those obtained from the simulations is carried out. It has been demonstrated that it is possible to obtain ultrafine grained cams with an increase of 10.3% in the microhardness mean value as compared to that obtained from material with no previous deformation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Vitamin D Decreases Serum VEGF Correlating with Clinical Improvement in Vitamin D-Deficient Women with PCOS: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial
Nutrients 2017, 9(4), 334; doi:10.3390/nu9040334 -
Abstract
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been suggested to play a role in the pathophysiology of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and may contribute to increased risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) in affected individuals. Vitamin D (VitD) supplementation improves multiple clinical parameters in
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Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been suggested to play a role in the pathophysiology of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and may contribute to increased risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) in affected individuals. Vitamin D (VitD) supplementation improves multiple clinical parameters in VitD-deficient women with PCOS and decreases VEGF levels in several other pathologic conditions. Unveiling the basic mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of vitamin D on PCOS may enhance our understanding of the pathophysiology of this syndrome. It may also suggest a new treatment for PCOS that can improve it through the same mechanism as vitamin D and can be given regardless of vitamin D levels. Therefore, we aimed to explore the effect of VitD supplementation on serum VEGF levels and assess whether changes in VEGF correlate with an improvement in characteristic clinical abnormalities of PCOS. This is a randomized placebo-controlled trial conducted between October 2013 and March 2015. Sixty-eight VitD-deficient women with PCOS were recruited. Women received either 50,000 IU of oral VitD3 or placebo once weekly for 8 weeks. There was a significant decrease in serum VEGF levels (1106.4 ± 36.5 to 965.3 ± 42.7 pg·mL–1; p < 0.001) in the VitD group. Previously reported findings of this trial demonstrated a significant decrease in the intermenstrual intervals, Ferriman-Gallwey hirsutism score, and triglycerides following VitD supplementation. Interestingly, ∆VEGF was positively correlated with ∆triglycerides (R2 = 0.22; p = 0.02) following VitD supplementation. In conclusion, VitD replacement significantly decreases serum VEGF levels correlating with a decrease in triglycerides in women with PCOS. This is a novel molecular explanation for the beneficial effects of VitD treatment. It also suggests the need to investigate a potential role of VitD treatment in reducing the incidence or severity of OHSS in VitD-deficient women with PCOS. Full article
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