NAU Planetary Science Intern Leads Study of Martian Crust (Planetary Science)

The planet Mars has no global magnetic field, although scientists believe it did have one at some point in the past. Previous studies suggest that when Mars’ global magnetic field was present, it was approximately the same strength as Earth’s current field. Surprisingly, instruments from past Mars missions, both orbiters and landers, have spotted patches on the planet’s surface that are strongly magnetized—a property that could not have been produced by a magnetic field similar to Earth’s, assuming the rocks on both planets are similar.

Ahmed AlHantoobi, an intern working with NAU planetary scientists, assistant professor Christopher Edwards and postdoctoral scholar Jennifer Buz in NAU’s Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science, led a study looking for answers to explain these magnetic anomalies. The team explored the relationships between the strength of the magnetic field on the surface and the composition of the crust in the Terra Sirenum-Terra Cimmeria region of Mars.

“Our findings show that in the area with the strongest magnetic patches, there is a verifiable positive correlation between the magnetic field and mineralogical data,” said AlHantoobi. “This leads us to believe that the composition of those patches enables them to record the magnetic field exceptionally well. Therefore, Mars’ ancient global magnetic field did not need to be as large to produce the strongly magnetized crust we observe today.”

The team recently published their findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in a paper entitled, “Compositional Enhancement of Crustal Magnetization on Mars.”

AlHantoobi, a student at Khalifa University in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), spent the last two summers participating in a program offered at NAU by Edwards and Buz to train and mentor Emirati undergraduate students in planetary science research. The program is part of Edwards’ involvement in the UAE space agency’s Emirates Mars Mission Hope orbiter project, which carries a unique new instrument he co-designed in collaboration with engineers from the United Arab Emirates Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and Arizona State University (ASU). While AlHantoobi was able to be on campus during the summer of 2019, in order to continue his project during the summer of 2020 and abide by travel restrictions, the team was forced to adapt to the 11-hour time difference between Dubai and Flagstaff.

“The impact of this study is quite high,” said Edwards, “as it provides some of the first answers to details related to the magnetism of the Martian crust.”

“My research with Jennifer and Christopher was an eye-opening experience,” said AlHantoobi, “and I believe it has impacted what I want to be in the future. I got to experience first-hand the beauty of discovering and answering the unknown.”

Other collaborators on the study included scientists from ASU and the Université de Nantes in France.

Featured image: From left: NAU summer intern Ahmed AlHantoobi, NAU postdoctoral scholar Jennifer Buz and NAU assistant professor Christopher Edwards studied magnetic anomalies in the Martian crust.


Reference: AlHantoobi, A., Buz, J., O’Rourke, J.. G., Langlais, B., & Edwards, C. S. (2020). Compositional Enhancement of Crustal Magnetization on Mars. Geophysical Research Letters, 47, e2020GL090379 https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GL090379


Provided by NAU

How Do You Know Where Volcanic Ash Will End Up? (Earth Science)

A UNIGE team studied the ash from volcanic eruptions and discovered two effects of ash sedimentation that will improve our ability to predict the danger posed by volcanic ash clouds

When the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland erupted in April 2010, air traffic was interrupted for six days and then disrupted until May. Until then, models from the nine Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAACs) around the world, which aimed at predicting when the ash cloud interfered with aircraft routes, were based on the tracking of the clouds in the atmosphere. In the wake of this economic disaster for airlines, ash concentration thresholds were introduced in Europe which are used by the airline industry when making decisions on flight restrictions. However, a team of researchers, led by the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, discovered that even the smallest volcanic ash did not behave as expected. Its results, to be read in the journal Nature Communications, will help to refine the way that volcanic ash is represented in forecasting models used by the VAACs, which must react in real-time to provide useful advice during a volcanic eruption.

The eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010 not only disrupted global air traffic, but also called into question the functioning of the forecast strategies used by the VAACs, based only on the spatial tracking of the ash cloud. A meeting of experts refined the strategies based on ash concentration thresholds and enabled flights to resume more quickly, while ensuring the safety of passengers and flight personnel.

“During a volcanic explosive eruption, fragments ranging from a few microns to more than 2 metres are ejected from the volcanic vent,” explains Eduardo Rossi, a researcher at the Department of Earth Sciences of the UNIGE Faculty of Sciences and the first author of the study. The larger the particles, the faster and closer to the volcano they fall, reducing the concentration of ash in the atmosphere. “This is why the new strategies have integrated concentration thresholds better defining the dangerousness for aircraft engines. From 2 milligrams per cubic metre, airlines must have an approved safety case to operate,” says the Geneva-based researcher.

Particle aggregates that impact predictive models

Despite existing knowledge about the ash clouds, several open questions remained unanswered after the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, including the discovery of particles in UK that were much larger than expected. “We wanted to understand how this was possible by accurately analysing the ash particles from the Sakurajima volcano in Japan, which has been erupting 2-3 times a day for more than 50 years,” says Costanza Bonadonna, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at UNIGE.

By using adhesive paper to collect the ash before it hit the ground, the team of scientists had already observed during the Eyjafjallajökull eruption how micrometric particles would group together into clusters, which, after the impact with the ground, were destroyed. “It plays an important role in the sedimentation rate, notes Eduardo Rossi. Once assembled in aggregates, these micrometre particles fall much faster and closer to the volcano than the models predict, because they are ultimately heavier than if they fell individually. This is called premature sedimentation. “

The rafting effect, declared impossible by theory

In Japan the UNIGE team made a new important discovery: the observation of the rafting effect. Using a high-speed camera, the volcanologists observed the sedimentation of the ash in real-time and discovered previously unseen aggregates called cored clusters. “These are formed by a large particle of 100-800 microns – the core – which is covered by many small particles less than 60 microns, explains Costanza Bonadonna. And this external layer of small particles can act like a parachute over the core, delaying its sedimentation. This is the rafting effect. “

This rafting effect had been theoretically suggested in 1993, but finally declared impossible. Today, its existence is well and truly proven by direct observation and accurate theoretical analysis, made possible by high-speed camera. “Working with Frances Beckett of the UK Met Office, we have carried out several simulations that have enabled us to answer the questions raised by the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull and the unexplained discovery of these oversized ash particles in UK. It was the result of this rafting effect, which delayed the fall of these aggregates,” enthuses Eduardo Rossi.

Now that the ash aggregates, the cored clusters and the rafting effect have been studied, it is a matter of collecting more accurate physical particle parameters so that one day they can be integrated into the operational models of the VAACs, for which size and density play a crucial role in calculating the concentration of ash in the atmosphere.

Featured image: Volcanic plume associated with the April-May 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano (Iceland) and Scanning Electron Microscope image of a typical ash cluster made of micrometric volcanic particles collected on an adhesive paper during fallout. © UNIGE, Costanza Bonadonna


Reference: Rossi, E., Bagheri, G., Beckett, F. et al. The fate of volcanic ash: premature or delayed sedimentation?. Nat Commun 12, 1303 (2021). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-21568-8 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21568-8


Provided by University of Geneve

Chemists Develop a New Technology to Prevent Lithium-ion Batteries From Catching Fire (Chemistry)

What scientists propose is to use a ‘chemical fuse’ to cover the main conductor cable of the battery

Lithium-ion battery fire hazards are extensive worldwide and such failure can have a severe implication for both smartphones and electric cars, says the head of the group and Professor in the Department of Electrochemistry at St Petersburg University Oleg Levin. ‘From 2012 to 2018, 25,000 cases of catching fire by a wide range of devices in the USA only were reported. Earlier, from 1999 to 2012, only 1,013 cases were reported. The number of fire incidents is increasing as is the number of the batteries being used,’ he said.

Among the main reasons why lithium ion batteries catch fire or explode are overcharging, short circuit, and others. As a result, the battery is overheated and the battery cell goes into thermal runaway. Increasing the temperature up to 70 or 90°C can lead to hazardous chemical reactions that may result in further increasing temperature and consequently fire or explosion. To keep batteries from catching fire we can use an adjacent device, i.e. an electronic microcircuit. It tracks all parameters of the battery and can switch the battery off in case of emergency. Yet most of the fire incidents were due to failures of the electronic microcircuits caused by manufacturing defects.

‘This is why it was particularly important to develop a safety strategy of the battery based on the chemical reactions to block the flow of electric current inside the battery pack. To this end, we propose to use a special polymer. Its electrical conductivity can adjust to the voltage fluctuations in the battery. If the battery works normally, the polymer does not prevent the electric current from flowing. If the battery is overcharged, there is a short circuit, or battery voltage drops below normal operating levels, the polymer goes into a so called isolator, circuit breaker, mode,’ said Professor Levin.

There are polymers that can change resistance when heated, says Professor Levin. The problem we faced when using this technology, including in the companies in St Petersburg, was if the polymer starts working as an isolator, it means that the battery has been already undergoing overheating which has resulted in hazardous processes that cannot be stopped by merely breaking electric circuit. This makes this technology far from being effective. Yet such advances generated interests in searching new technologies, including the polymer that will be able to adjust voltage before the battery starts to overheat.

‘I collaborated with Evegenii Beletskii, my postgraduate student at the Department of Electrochemistry, who had worked in industry. He has an extensive experience in developing battery safety systems. This helped us a lot in carrying out the experimental part of the project that focused on how the polymer worked. Anna Fedorova, a postgraduate student at the Department of Electrochemistry, also worked in industry. In the project, she was mainly concerned with calculating physical and chemical properties of the material,’ said Oleg Levin.

The project lasted two years. During the six years before the start of the project to develop the technology, the scientists had carried out fundamental research to study the physical and chemical properties of a wide range of polymers. They discovered a class of polymers that change resistance with voltage. This was what the scientists got focused on.

‘The most difficult part in developing the “chemical fuse” was to find an active polymer. We knew a great variety of polymers of this class. Yet choosing the one that would be suitable to create a prototype was a hard nut to crack,’ said Oleg Levin. ‘Moreover, we had to advance the technology by developing an industrial version to show that we had come up with an idea of effective battery safety strategy. Thus, we had to purchase a lot of new equipment for prototyping and adjusting techniques to work with lithium-ion batteries.’

What makes this safety technology different is high scalability. For example, how big the traditional adjusting guard circuit depends on how powerful the battery is. Therefore, the scheme of the motive power batteries of electric cars will be both big and costly. Scaling the ‘chemical fuse’ is simple as it is applied all over the surface of the inner current collector.

‘Lithium-ion batteries use different type of cathodes, i.e. positively charged electrode by which electrons enter an electrical device. They have different working voltage. Thus, a safety polymer should react accordingly. We have managed to find a polymer that would be suitable for only one type of battery, that is a lithium iron phosphate battery. Changing the structure of the polymer might result in changing its conductivity to make it suitable for other types of cathodes that are on the market today. We have some thoughts as to how to make this safety strategy more universal by adding a safety component into the polymer to adjust to changes in temperature levels in the battery. This is expected to eliminate all fire risks associated with the batteries,’ said Oleg Levin.

Before publishing the article, St Petersburg University received a patent for this technology. The scientists are currently preparing a real-size model of protected batteries to demonstrate them to potential investors.

Featured image: Prototypes of the protected and non-protected battery after a case of emergency, i.e. overcharging: The gases built up and caused the non-protected battery (on the left) to swell up. It may lead to an explosion. The protected battery (on the right) remains flat as the protective layer blocked the process © SPbU


Reference: E.V. Beletskii, A.A. Fedorova, D.A. Lukyanov, A.Y. Kalnin, V.A. Ershov, S.E. Danilov, D.V. Spiridonova, E.V. Alekseeva, O.V. Levin, Switchable resistance conducting-polymer layer for Li-ion battery overcharge protection, Journal of Power Sources, Volume 490, 2021, 229548, ISSN 0378-7753, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpowsour.2021.229548. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378775321000951)


Provided by St. Petersburg State University

Correct Diagnosis of Genetic Condition Could Help Patients Stop Smoking And Prevent Lung Disease (Medicine)

New research shows that people diagnosed with a genetic condition, called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), are far more likely to stop smoking and therefore prevent the development of lung disease.

The study, led by researchers from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Science, is published in Opens in new windowCOPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

It is estimated that 265,000 people on the island of Ireland are affected by either severe or moderate AATD, but the vast majority of people with AATD have not been diagnosed.

Previously, it was assumed that only people with severe AATD were at risk of lung disease. Recent Irish research has shown that people with the far more common moderate form of AATD are also at risk of lung disease if they are smokers.

With the smoking rate in the general population in Ireland at 17%, this means there are approximately 45,000 current smokers with either severe or moderate AATD who are at increased risk of lung damage due to cigarettes. According to the latest figures from the national targeted detection programme for AATD based at RCSI Beaumont Hospital, 90% of these smokers with AATD remain undiagnosed.

The researchers surveyed patients enrolled in the National AATD Registry with a questionnaire relating to demographics, parental smoking history, personal smoking history, AATD awareness and personal medical history.

Of the 293 respondents, 58 reported being smokers at the time of their AATD diagnosis. Their subsequent reported quit rate was 70.7%.

“Our study has shown that those who receive a diagnosis of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency are far more likely to stop smoking. We hope this study will lead to increased testing for AATD, with more people being diagnosed and choosing to stop or completely avoid smoking in order to prevent lung disease from developing,” said Dr Tomás Carroll, senior lecturer at RCSI and the study’s corresponding author.

“People with AATD who use electronic cigarettes are also potentially at risk, but more research is needed.”

The research also found that people who reported having a parent who smoked were far more likely to become smokers themselves. Those with a parent who smoked were 84% more likely to smoke than those who did not.

For a diagnosis of AATD, a simple blood test is available in most large hospitals in Ireland that can identify those who need further testing. The more precise definitive test is provided for free by Alpha-1 Foundation Ireland as part of a HSE funded national targeted detection programme.

More information on how to get tested can be found at Opens in new windowwww.alpha1.ie or by calling (0)1 8093 871.

AATD results from a deficiency of the alpha-1 antitrypsin protein, which is made by the liver and protects tissues in the body from being attacked by its own enzymes. It is a genetic condition that can cause lung, liver and skin disease.

With 1 in 25 people in Ireland carrying a defective alpha-1 antitrypsin gene, AATD is much more common in Ireland than in most other countries. AATD is one of the most common genetic conditions in Ireland.

Reference: Alessandro N. Franciosi, Mansour A. Alkhunaizi, Andrew Woodsmith, Layali Aldaihani, Hamad Alkandari, Siobhán E. Lee, Laura T. Fee, Noel G. McElvaney & Tomás P. Carroll (2021) Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency and Tobacco Smoking: Exploring Risk Factors and Smoking Cessation in a Registry Population, COPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, 18:1, 76-82, DOI: 10.1080/15412555.2020.1864725


Provided by RCSI

Researchers Discover SARS-CoV-2 Inhibitors (Medicine)

Pharmacists at the University of Bonn: Substances block key step in coronavirus replication

A research team of pharmacists at the University of Bonn has discovered two families of active substances that can block the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The drug candidates are able to switch off the the key enzyme of the virus, the so-called main protease. The study is based on laboratory experiments. Extensive clinical trials are still required for their further development as therapeutic drugs. The results have now been published in the journal “Angewandte Chemie”.

In order for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus to replicate, it relies on the main protease as a key enzyme. The virus first has its genome translated from RNA into a large protein strand. The viral main protease then cuts this protein chain into smaller pieces, from which the new virus particles are formed. “The main protease is an extremely promising starting point for coronavirus drug research,” says Prof. Dr. Christa E. Müller of the Pharmaceutical Institute at the University of Bonn. “If this enzyme is blocked, viral replication in the body’s cells is stopped.” The researcher is a member of the Transdisciplinary Research Area “Life and Health” at the University of Bonn.

The pharmaceutical chemists designed a large number of potential inhibitors based on the structure of the main protease and the mechanism by which the important virus-replicating enzyme works. “A suitable inhibitor must bind sufficiently tightly to the main protease to be able to block its active site,” says Prof. Dr. Michael Gütschow, who heads an independent research group on such inhibitors at the Pharmaceutical Institute of the University of Bonn.

Fluorescent test system

Then the experimental phase began. The researchers developed a new test system for high-throughput screening. They offered the main protease a substrate to which a reporter molecule was coupled. When the protease catalytically cleaved this coupling, the fluorescence of the product was measurable. However, if a simultaneously administered inhibitor successfully blocked the activity of the protease, there was no fluorescence. “For most of the test compounds, we observed no enzyme inhibition. But on rare occasions in our comprehensive tests, fluorescence was suppressed: These were the hits we had hoped for in our search for inhibitors of the viral protease,” reports Gütschow.

Miriam Diett, Laura Schäkel, Dr. Vigneshwaran Namasivayam, Katharina Sylvester, Ghazl Al Hamwi, Prof. Dr. Christa E. Müller, Julian Breidenbach, Maria Zyulina, Prof. Dr. Michael Gütschow, Lan Phuong Vu and Carina Lemke. © Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn

Like chewing gum at the catalytic center

The researchers’ high-throughput screening showed two classes of drugs that appeared to be particularly promising. Customized compounds of both classes were then newly synthesized. They stick to the main protease like chewing gum and block the crucial catalytic center, which prevents the main protease from preparing the virus replication. “Some of the compounds even have another effect,” Müller reports. “They also inhibit a human enzyme that helps the virus enter body cells.”

The participants contributed very different expertise to the study. “Only through great collaboration have we been able to design, synthesize and biochemically characterize suitable drug candidates,” says Gütschow. “The best compounds represent promising lead structures for drug development,” according to Müller. However, extensive clinical trials have yet to prove whether these candidates also inhibit SARS coronavirus-2 replication in humans, Gütschow adds.

Participating institutions and funding

In addition to the lead University of Bonn, the Institute of Virology and Immunobiology at the University of Würzburg was also involved. The study was supported with funds from the Pharmaceutical Institute of the University of Bonn.

Featured image: Main protease of the coronavirus with one of the newly developed inhibitors in the active centre. The individual domains of the protein are shown in different colours, the inhibitor in pink. © V. Namasivayam/Pharmazeutisches Institut/Uni Bonn


Publication: Julian Breidenbach, Carina Lemke, Thanigaimalai Pillaiyar, Laura Schäkel, Ghazl Al Hamwi, Miriam Diett, Robin Gedschold, Nina Geiger, Vittoria Lopez, Salahuddin Mirza, Vigneshwaran Namasivayam, Anke C. Schiedel, Katharina Sylvester, Dominik Thimm, Christin Vielmuth, Lan Phuong Vu, Maria Zyulina, Jochen Bodem, Michael Gütschow and Christa E. Müller: Targeting the Main Protease of SARS-CoV-2: From the Establishment of High Throughput Screening to the Design of Tailored Inhibitors, Angewandte Chemie, DOI: 10.1002/anie.202016961


Provided by University of Bonn

Will This Solve the Mystery of the Expansion of the Universe? (Astronomy)

Physicists’ new proposal that a new type of extra dark energy is involved is highlighted in scientific journal.

The universe was created by a giant bang; the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, and then it started to expand. The expansion is ongoing: it is still being stretched out in all directions like a balloon being inflated.

Physicists agree on this much, but something is wrong. Measuring the expansion rate of the universe in different ways leads to different results.

So, is something wrong with the methods of measurement? Or is something going on in the universe that physicists have not yet discovered and therefore have not taken into account?

“A new type of dark energy can solve the problem of the conflicting calculations”

— Martin S. Sloth, Professor

It could very well be the latter, according to several physicists, i.a. Martin S. Sloth, Professor of Cosmology at SDU.

In a new scientific article, he and his SDU colleague, postdoc Florian Niedermannn, propose the existence of a new type of dark energy in the universe. If you include it in the various calculations of the expansion of the universe, the results will be more alike.

– A new type of dark energy can solve the problem of the conflicting calculations, says Martin S. Sloth.

Conflicting measurements

When physicists calculate the expansion rate of the universe, they base the calculation on the assumption that the universe is made up of dark energy, dark matter and ordinary matter. Until recently, all types of observations fitted in with such a model of the universe’s composition of matter and energy, but this is no longer the case.

Conflicting results arise when looking at the latest data from measurements of supernovae and the cosmic microwave background radiation; the two methods quite simply lead to different results for the expansion rate.

– In our model, we find that if there was a new type of extra dark energy in the early universe, it would explain both the background radiation and the supernova measurements simultaneously and without contradiction, says Martin S. Sloth.

From one phase to another

– We believe that in the early universe, dark energy existed in a different phase. You can compare it to when water is cooled and it undergoes a phase transition to ice with a lower density, he explains and continues:

– In the same way, dark energy in our model undergoes a transition to a new phase with a lower energy density, thereby changing the effect of the dark energy on the expansion of the universe.

According to Sloth and Niedermann’s calculations, the results add up if you imagine that dark energy thus underwent a phase transition triggered by the expansion of the universe.

A very violent process

– It is a phase transition where many bubbles of the new phase suddenly appear, and when these bubbles expand and collide, the phase transition is complete. On a cosmic scale, it is a very violent quantum mechanical process, explains Martin S. Sloth.

Today we know approx. 20 per cent of the matter that the universe is made of. It is the matter that you and I, planets and galaxies are made of. The universe also consists of dark matter, which no one knows what is.

In addition, there is dark energy in the universe; it is the energy that causes the universe to expand, and it makes up approx. 70 pct. of the energy density of the universe.

Illustration: Adobe Stock


Provided by University of Southern Denmark

Periodontitis: Researchers Search For a New Active Substance (Medicine)

Targeted, efficient and with few side effects: A new method for combating periodontitis could render the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics superfluous. It was developed and tested for the first time by a team from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI and Periotrap Pharmaceuticals GmbH. The aim is to neutralise only bacteria that cause periodontitis while sparing harmless bacteria. The study appeared in the “Journal of Biological Chemistry”.

Periodontitis is a common bacterial inflammation of the gums. According to the World Health Organization WHO Oral Health Study, almost 10 percent of the global population are affected with a severe form of the disease, which can lead to tooth loss as well as increasing the risk of other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. Until now, treatment has mainly involved the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics that attack all bacteria in the mouth. However, this has some disadvantages: “One side effect of the treatment is that it also destroys all the harmless or beneficial bacteria in the oral cavity. In addition, the bacteria can ultimately develop resistance to the antibiotics,” explains Dr Mirko Buchholz from Periotrap Pharmaceuticals, who led the new study alongside Professor Milton T. Stubbs, a biotechnologist at MLU. 

The researchers therefore looked for a way to eradicate only the harmful bacteria in the mouth. A team from Fraunhofer IZI’s Department of Drug Design and Target Validation in Halle developed a test substance that attacks glutaminyl cyclase, a specific enzyme in the bacteria that plays a special role in metabolism. Inactivation of this enzyme harms the bacteria and, ideally, no periodontitis can develop. To test its effectiveness, the researchers joined forces with the Clinics for Dental Medicine at the University of Bern, Jagiellonian University in Krakow and the University of Louisville in Kentucky (USA). They found that the new substance successfully suppresses the growth of pathogenic bacteria. 

The new test substance has a special feature: It only works on the harmful bacteria. “Our target, glutaminyl cyclase, comes in two different variants. Normally, plants and bacteria have one variant of the enzyme and mammals another. The two variants work in a similar fashion, but they differ significantly in their structure. It’s a bit like flat-tip versus Phillips screwdrivers,” explains Stubbs. Surprisingly, the bacteria that trigger periodontitis have the mammalian variant of the enzyme. “This is crucial for our approach because it gives us a possible target so we only kill the pathogenic bacteria and leave the harmless ones intact,” says Mirko Buchholz. To minimise possible side effects in advance, the team compared the bacterial enzyme with the human variant. “There are small but significant differences between the enzymes,” says Stubbs. These differences are probably sufficient for the new substance to not affect the human enzymes. Therefore, only minor side effects are to be expected.  

The researchers’ study provides initial evidence that the approach essentially works. It must now be fine-tuned in further studies and tested in subsequent clinical trials. It may therefore take some years before the research from Halle becomes a marketable drug. 

The study was funded by the European Union and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).


Study: Taudte N. et al. Mammalian-like type II glutaminyl cyclases in Porphyromonas gingivalis and other oral pathogenic bacteria as targets for treatment of periodontitis. Journal of Biological Chemistry (2021). Doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2021.100263


Provided by Martin Luther University of Halle Wittenburg

How to Choose Low Glycaemic Index (GI) Foods? A GI “Glossary” of Asian Foods Released (Food)

Singapore research team’s comprehensive study provides the glycaemic index values for a variety of foods that are consumed in non-Western countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, China, Japan, South Korea, Middle East and more.

Professor Christiani Jeyakumar Henry, Senior Advisor of Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and his team have developed a Glycaemic Index (GI) glossary of non-Western foods. The research paper (attached PDF) was published in Nutrition & Diabetes on 6 Jan 2021: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41387-020-00145-w.

Observational studies have shown that the consumption of low glycaemic index (GI) foods is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), significantly less insulin resistance and a lower prevalence of the metabolic syndrome. However, most published GI values focus on Western foods with minimal inclusion of other foods from non-Western countries, hence their application is of limited global use.

The team’s comprehensive study provides the GI values for a variety of foods that are consumed in non-Western countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, China, Japan, South Korea, Middle East and more. The review extends and expands on the current GI tables to widen its application globally. The GI data compiled consists of both single and mixed meals. This is a major advance to many GI tables that have focused on single foods. Mixed meals in Asia are complex in relation to ingredients used and taste. Given the complexity, the inclusion of the GI of mixed meals is a major advantage. It is hoped that this compendium will highlight ways to reduce the GI of carbohydrate-rich staples and enhance the use of GI tables for a worldwide audience.

Featured image: Figure shows how combination of food ingredients and foods may be used to reduce the glycaemic response of rice-based staples. © Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI), Clinical Nutrition Research Centre (CNRC)


Reference: Henry, C.J., Quek, R.Y.C., Kaur, B. et al. A glycaemic index compendium of non-western foods. Nutr. Diabetes 11, 2 (2021). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41387-020-00145-w https://doi.org/10.1038/s41387-020-00145-w


Provided by ASTAR, Singapore

Researchers Investigate Imaginary Part in Quantum Resource Theory (Quantum)

Recently, research team led by academician GUO Guangcan from CAS Key Laboratory of Quantum Information of the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) of CAS, has made an important progress in quantum information theory. Prof. LI Chuanfeng and Prof. XIANG Guoyong from the team, cooperated with Dr. Strelstov from University of Warsaw, investigated the imaginary part of quantum theory as a resource, and several important results have been obtained. Relevant results are now jointly published as Editors’ Suggestion in Physical Review Letters and Physical Review A.

Complex number is a mathematical tool, and it is widely used in mechanics, electrodynamics, optics and other related fields of physics to provide an elegant formulation of the corresponding theory. The birth of quantum mechanics gives a unified picture of wave and particle, and further strengthens the prominent role of complex number in physics. However, the question of whether complex structures are necessary for quantum mechanics has long been debated by physicists

Researchers regarded complex number as a kind of quantum resource, and reveal its irreplaceable role in the local discrimination of bipartite quantum states. Furthermore, in the framework of quantum resource theory, they studied the measurement method of this resource and the transformation problem under various free operations. They have solved the problem of robustness measurement of complex size, transformation of single bit quantum state under free operation and mutual transformation probability of any pure state under free operation.

Using the two-photon entangled state prepared by parametric down conversion, researchers further measured and compared the success probability of locally distinguishing quantum state when only using the real measurement basis and using general measurement basis. They successfully observed the increase of the success probability when using the complex measurement basis, which verified the important role of the complex in quantum mechanics.

This work proves that the imaginary part is indispensable in the theory of quantum mechanics. The reviewer highly recommended it as “I find that the quantum imaginarity can be considered as a stronger form of quantum coherence, ……., I also think that the results in the manuscript will stimulate the research on the quantum foundation and the quantum resource theories with a richer structure”.

Featured image: Experimental results for local state discrimination © WU Kangda et al.


Reference: Kang-Da Wu, Tulja Varun Kondra, Swapan Rana, Carlo Maria Scandolo, Guo-Yong Xiang, Chuan-Feng Li, Guang-Can Guo, and Alexander Streltsov, “Operational Resource Theory of Imaginarity”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 126, 090401 – Published 1 March 2021. https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.126.090401


Provided by University of Science and Technology China