Open Science Research Excellence

Open Science Index

Commenced in January 2007 Frequency: Monthly Edition: International Abstract Count: 66741

Defect Correlation of Computed Tomography and Serial Sectioning in Additively Manufactured Ti-6Al-4V
This study presents initial results toward the correlative characterization of inherent defects of Ti-6Al-4V additive manufacture (AM). X-Ray Computed Tomography (CT) defect data are compared and correlated with microscopic photographs obtained via automated serial sectioning. The metal AM specimen was manufactured out of Ti-6Al-4V virgin powder to specified dimensions. A post-contour was applied during the fabrication process with a speed of 1050 mm/s, power of 260 W, and a width of 140 µm. The specimen was stress relief heat-treated at 16°F for 3 hours. Microfocus CT imaging was accomplished on the specimen within a predetermined region of the build. Microfocus CT imaging was conducted with parameters optimized for Ti-6Al-4V additive manufacture. After CT imaging, a modified RoboMet. 3D version 2 was employed for serial sectioning and optical microscopy characterization of the same predetermined region. Automated montage capture with sub-micron resolution, bright-field reflection, 12-bit monochrome optical images were performed in an automated fashion. These optical images were post-processed to produce 2D and 3D data sets. This processing included thresholding and segmentation to improve visualization of defect features. The defects observed from optical imaging were compared and correlated with the defects observed from CT imaging over the same predetermined region of the specimen. Quantitative results of area fraction and equivalent pore diameters obtained via each method are presented for this correlation. It is shown that Microfocus CT imaging does not capture all inherent defects within this Ti-6Al-4V AM sample. Best practices for this correlative effort are also presented as well as the future direction of research resultant from this current study.
Binding of Avian Excreta-Derived Enteroccoci to a Streptococcocus mutans: Implications for Avian to Human Transmission
Since Enterococci has been implicated in oral disease, we hypothesized the transmission of avian Enterococci to humans via fecal-oral transmission facilitated by adherence to dental plaque. To demonstrate the capability of Enterococci to bind to a dental plaque we filtered avian excreta and incubated the filtrate on a sucrose-induced, Streptococcus mutans biofilm. The biofilm was washed several times with a detergent to remove bacteria binding non-specifically to the biofilm, DNA was isolated from the biofilm, 16S rDNA was amplified, sequenced by Ion Torrent DNA sequencing and analyzed with bioinformatics. Enterococci and other known bacterial pathogens were shown to adhere to the biofilm. Culturing the washed biofilm with Bile Esculin Azide (BEA) agar also confirmed the presence of Enterococci as verified with Sanger sequencing. The results suggest that Enteroccoci in avian excreta has the ability to adhere to human dental plaque and may be a mechanism of entry when humans encounter contaminated aerosols, water or food.
Clay Hydrogel Nanocomposite for Controlled Small Molecule Release
Clay-hydrogel nanocomposites have attracted great attention recently, mainly because of their enhanced mechanical properties and ease of fabrication. Moreover, the unique platelet structure of clay nanoparticles enables the incorporation of bioactive molecules, such as proteins or drugs, through ion exchange, adsorption or intercalation. This study seeks to improve the mechanical and rheological properties of a novel hydrogel system, copolymerized from a tetrapodal polyethylene glycol (PEG) thiol and a linear, triblock PEG-PPG-PEG (PPG: polypropylene glycol) α,ω-bispropynoate polymer, with the simultaneous incorporation of various amounts of Na-saturated, montmorillonite clay (MMT) platelets (av. lateral dimension = 200 nm), to form a bioactive three-dimensional network. Although the parent hydrogel has controlled swelling ability and its PEG groups have good affinity for the clay platelets, it suffers from poor mechanical stability and is currently unsuitable for potential applications. Nanocomposite hydrogels containing 4wt% MMT showed a twelve-fold enhancement in compressive strength, reaching 0.75MPa, and also a three-fold acceleration in gelation time, when compared with the parent hydrogel. Interestingly, clay nanoplatelet incorporation into the hydrogel slowed down the rate of its dehydration in air. Preliminary results showed that protein binding by the MMT varied with the nature of the protein, as horseradish peroxidase (HRP) was more strongly bound than bovine serum albumin. The HRP was no longer active when bound, presumably as a result of extensive structural refolding. Further work is being undertaken to assess protein binding behaviour within the nanocomposite hydrogel for potential diabetic wound healing applications.
A Continuous Real-Time Analytic for Predicting Instability in Acute Care Rapid Response Team Activations
A reliable, real-time, and non-invasive system that can identify patients at risk for hemodynamic instability is needed to aid clinicians in their efforts to anticipate patient deterioration and initiate early interventions. The purpose of this pilot study was to explore the clinical capabilities of a real-time analytic from a single lead of an electrocardiograph to correctly distinguish between rapid response team (RRT) activations due to hemodynamic (H-RRT) and non-hemodynamic (NH-RRT) causes, as well as predict H-RRT cases with actionable lead times. The study consisted of a single center, retrospective cohort of 21 patients with RRT activations from step-down and telemetry units. Through electronic health record review and blinded to the analytic’s output, each patient was categorized by clinicians into H-RRT and NH-RRT cases. The analytic output and the categorization were compared. The prediction lead time prior to the RRT call was calculated. The analytic correctly distinguished between H-RRT and NH-RRT cases with 100% accuracy, demonstrating 100% positive and negative predictive values, and 100% sensitivity and specificity. In H-RRT cases, the analytic detected hemodynamic deterioration with a median lead time of 9.5 hours prior to the RRT call (range 14 minutes to 52 hours). The study demonstrates that an electrocardiogram (ECG) based analytic has the potential for providing clinical decision and monitoring support for caregivers to identify at risk patients within a clinically relevant timeframe allowing for increased vigilance and early interventional support to reduce the chances of continued patient deterioration.
Comparison of Bismuth-Based Nanoparticles as Radiosensitization Agents for Radiotherapy
Nano-materials with high atomic number atoms have been demonstrated to enhance the effective radiation dose and thus potentially could improve therapeutic efficacy in radiotherapy. The optimal nanoparticulate agents require high X-ray absorption coefficients, low toxicity, and should be cost effective. The focus of our research is the development of a nanoparticle therapeutic agent that can be used in radiotherapy to provide optimal enhancement of the radiation effects on the target. In this study, we used bismuth (Bi) nanoparticles coated with starch and bismuth sulphide nanoparticles (Bi2S3) coated with polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP). These NPs are of low toxicity and are one of the least expensive heavy metal-based nanoparticles. The aims of this study were to synthesise Bi2S3 and Bi NPs, and examine their cytotoxicity to human lung adenocarcinoma epithelial cells (A549). The dose enhancing effects of NPs on A549 cells were examined at both KV and MV energies. The preliminary results revealed that bismuth based nanoparticles show increased radio-sensitisation of cells, displaying dose enhancement with KV X-ray energies and to a lesser degree for the MV energies. We also observed that Bi NPs generated a greater dose enhancement effect than Bi2S3 NPs in irradiated A549 cells. The maximum Dose Enhancement Factor (DEF) was obtained at lower energy KV range when cells treated with Bi NPs (1.5) compared to the DEF of 1.2 when cells treated with Bi2S3NPs. Less radiation dose enhancement was observed when using high energy MV beam with higher DEF value of Bi NPs treatment (1.26) as compared to 1.06 DEF value with Bi2S3 NPs. The greater dose enhancement was achieved at KV energy range, due the effect of the photoelectric effect which is the dominant process of interaction of X-ray. The cytotoxic effect of Bi NPs on enhancing the X-ray dose was higher due to the higher amount of elemental Bismuth present in Bi NPs compared to Bi2S3 NPs. The results suggest that Bismuth based NPs can be considered as valuable dose enhancing agents when used in clinical applications.
Prediction of the Factors Influencing the Utilization of HIV Testing among Young People Aged between 17-25 Years in Saudi Arabia
Background: Despite recent progress in enhancing the accessibility of HIV-related health services worldwide, opportunities to diagnose patients are often missed due to genuine barriers at different levels. The aim of the study is to explore the factors that affect the utilization of HIV testing services by young people aged 17-25 in Saudi Arabia. Methods: A non-experimental descriptive cross-sectional design was used to predict factors that influenced HIV testing among Umm- Al Qura University students aged 17-25 years. A newly developed self-completed online questionnaire was used and the study sample was drawn using a convenience sampling technique. The questionnaire consisted of 52 items divided into three scales: 12 items for HIV/AIDS-related knowledge, 3 items for risk perception, and 37 items for attitudes toward HIV testing. Five experts in the field of HIV/AIDS validated the contents of the questionnaire and agreed that the items included were related to the construct being measured. The reliability of the questionnaire was also assessed using a test/re-test strategy with 27 participants recruited from the population under study. The reliability assessment revealed that the questionnaire was consistent as Cronbach’s Alpha was 0.80 for HIV/ADS knowledge, 0.88 for risk perception and 0.78 for attitudes towards HIV testing. The data were collected between 14th of July and 14th of October 2014. Results: 394 participants completed the questionnaires: 116 (29.4%) male and 278 (70%) female. 50.5% of the participants were aged 20 to 22 years, 34.8% were 17-19 years and 14.7% were aged between 23-25 years; about 93% of the participants were single. Only 20 (6%) participants had previously been tested for HIV. The main reasons for not being tested for HIV were: exposure to HIV was considered unlikely (48%), HIV test was not offered (36%) and unawareness of HIV testing centres (16%). On HIV/AIDS-related knowledge, the male participants scored higher than the females as the mean score for males was (M = 6.4, SD = 2.4) while for females it was (M 5.7, SD 2.5). In terms of risk perception, female participants appeared to have lower levels of risk perception than male participants, with the mean score for males being (M 11.7, SD 2.5) and (M 10.5, SD 2.4) for females. The female participants showed slightly more positive attitudes towards HIV testing than male participants: the mean score for males was (M = 108.14, SD = 17.9) and was (M = 111.32, SD = 17.3) for females. Conclusions: The data reveal that misconceptions about HIV/AIDS in Saudi Arabia are still a challenge. Although the attitudes towards HIV testing were reasonably positive, the utilization of the HIV test was low. Thus, tailoring HIV/AIDS preventive strategies in Saudi Arabia should focus on the needs of young people and other high risk groups in the country.
Soft Pneumatic Actuators Fabricated Using Soluble Polymer Inserts and a Single-Pour System for Improved Durability
Although a relatively new field, soft robotics is experiencing a rise in applicability in the secondary school setting through The Soft Robotics Toolkit, shared fabrication resources and a design competition. Exposing students outside of university research groups to this rapidly growing field allows for development of the soft robotics industry in new and imaginative ways. Soft robotic actuators have remained difficult to implement in classrooms because of their relative cost or difficulty of fabrication. Traditionally, a two-part molding system is used; however, this configuration often results in delamination. In an effort to make soft robotics more accessible to young students, we aim to develop a simple, single-mold method of fabricating soft robotic actuators from common household materials. These actuators are made by embedding a soluble polymer insert into silicone. These inserts can be made from hand-cut polystyrene, 3D-printed polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), or molded sugar. The insert is then dissolved using an appropriate solvent such as water or acetone, leaving behind a negative form which can be pneumatically actuated. The resulting actuators are seamless, eliminating the instability of adhering multiple layers together. The benefit of this approach is twofold: it simplifies the process of creating a soft robotic actuator, and in turn, increases its effectiveness and durability. To quantify the increased durability of the single-mold actuator, it was tested against the traditional two-part mold. The single-mold actuator could withstand actuation at 20psi for 20 times the duration when compared to the traditional method. The ease of fabrication of these actuators makes them more accessible to hobbyists and students in classrooms. After developing these actuators, they were applied, in collaboration with a ceramics teacher at our school, to a glove used to transfer nuanced hand motions used to throw pottery from an expert artist to a novice. We quantified the improvement in the users’ pottery-making skill when wearing the glove using image analysis software. The seamless actuators proved to be robust in this dynamic environment. Seamless soft robotic actuators created by high school students show the applicability of the Soft Robotics Toolkit for secondary STEM education and outreach. Making students aware of what is possible through projects like this will inspire the next generation of innovators in materials science and robotics.
An Analytic Cross-Sectional Study on the Association between Social Determinants of Health, Maternal and Child Health-Related Knowledge and Attitudes, and Utilization of Maternal, Newborn, Child Health and Nutrition Strategy-Prescribed Services for M
Indigenous peoples (IPs) in the Philippines are a vulnerable, marginalized group in terms of health and overall well-being due to social inequities and cultural differences. National standards regarding maternal healthcare are geared towards facility-based delivery with modern medicine, health services, and skilled birth attendants. Standards and procedures of care for pregnant mothers do not take into account cultural differences between indigenous people and the majority of the population. There do exist, however, numerous other factors that cause relatively poorer health outcomes among indigenous peoples (IPs). This analytic cross-sectional study sought to determine the association between social determinants of health (SDH), focusing on status as indigenous peoples, and maternal health-related knowledge and attitudes (KA), and health behavior of the Dumagat-Agta indigenous people of Barangay Catablingan and Barangay San Marcelino, General Nakar, Quezon Province, and their utilization of health facilities for antenatal care, facility-based delivery and postpartum care, which would affect their health outcomes (that were not within the scope of this study). To quantitatively measure the primary/secondary exposures and outcomes, a total of 90 face-to-face interviews with IP and non-IP mothers were done. For qualitative information, participant observation among 6 communities (5 IP and 1 non-IP), 11 key informant interviews (traditional and modern health providers) and 4 focused group discussions among IP mothers were conducted. Primary quantitative analyses included chi-squared, T-test and binary logistic regression, while secondary qualitative analyses involved thematic analysis and triangulation. The researchers spent a total of 15 days in the community to learn the culture and participate in the practices of the Dumagat-Agta more intensively and deeply. Overall, utilization of all MNCHN services measured in the study was lower for IP mothers compared to their non-IP counterparts. After controlling for confounders measured in the study, IP status (primary exposure) was found to be significantly correlated with utilization of and adherence to two MNCHN-prescribed services: number of antenatal care check-ups and place of delivery (secondary outcomes). Findings show that being an indigenous mother leads to unfavorable social determinants of health, and if compounded by a difference in knowledge and attitudes, would then lead to poor levels of utilization of MNCHN-prescribed services. Key themes from qualitative analyses show that factors that affected utilization were: culture, land alienation, social discrimination, socioeconomic status, and relations between IPs and non-IPs, specifically with non-IP healthcare providers. The findings of this study aim to be used to help and guide in policy-making, to provide healthcare that is not only adequate and of quality, but more importantly, that addresses inequities stemming from various social determinants, and which is socio-culturally acceptable to indigenous communities. To address the root causes of health problems of IPs, there must be full recognition and exercise of their collective rights to communal assets, specifically land, and self-determination. This would improve maternal and child health outcomes to one of the most vulnerable and neglected sectors in society today.