Research highlights in the June issue of the Okayama University e-Bulletin include innovative pendulum dynamo for converting tidal energy to electricity; models for breeding plants; unique insights into photosynthesis and Photosystem II; repairing DNA; and developing lithium-ion baterries with help from bacteria.
Okayama University's Shinji Hiejima is looking for industrial partners to commercialize his experimentally proven and patented concept of the Hydro-VENUS system for converting tidal energy into electrical power. Research on converting tidal energy into electricity energy has a long history with the European Marine Energy Centre, in Scotland being one of the major international hubs for testing ideas on extracting energy from the motion of seas and tidal currents.
In Japan the search for energy resources is a high priority with research on exploiting the power of the seas surrounding the Japanese archipelago being actively pursued. Notably, a report published by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) in 2010 states that the potential of tidal energy in Japan is equivalent to 20 nuclear power plants. Furthermore, the Seto Inland Sea—where Okayama University is located—has been assessed as being a site with especially high potential.
Plant science: Plant models for crop breeding of the future
This review article summarizes the structure and stability of all the minichromosomes that Minoru Murata and colleagues at Okayama University have isolated since 2006, and describes their interesting features.
Photosynthesis: New model of the quality control of Photosystem II
M. Y.-Nishimura and Y. Yamamoto at Okayama University proposed the new model of the quality control of PSII focused on the structure of thylakoid membranes.
Repairing DNA lesion
Repair of DNA lesion is essential for mammalian development. Notably, DNA lesions in cells caused by genotoxic agents results in arrest of cell cycle and ultimately in cell death. In response, DNA polymerase ζ (Polζ) is a translesion DNA polymerases that repair DNA damage and relieve cell cycle arrest.
Bacterial Nanometric Amorphous Fe-Based Oxide: Potential of Lithium-Ion Battery Anode Material
Leptothrix ochracea is a species of iron-oxidizing bacteria that exists in natural hydrospheres where groundwater outwells worldwide. Intriguingly, the bacterium produces Fe3+-based amorphous oxide particles that readily assemble into microtubular sheaths encompassing the bacterial cell. The mass of such sheaths (named L-BIOX : Biogenous Iron Oxide produced by Leptothrix) has been usually regarded as useless waste, but Jun Takada and colleagues at Okayama University discovered unexpected industrial functions of L-BIOX such as a great potential as an anode material in lithium-ion battery.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND ENTERPRISE
Synthesis of novel homeostasis modulators by "Westernized Kampo Medicine"
—Retinoid X Receptor Partial-Agonists Exert Anti-type 2 Diabetes Effects with Less Adverse Effects than Full-Agonists—
"Westernized Kampo Medicine" is a novel approach in modern medicine, defined by Dr. Hiroki Kakuta, that intends to exhibit the effects of Japanese Kampo Medicine with small molecules (Ref. 1). Japanese Kampo Medicine was developed in Japan, branching from traditional Chinese Medicine (Oriental Medicine). In contrast to Western Medicine, which has a well-regarded therapeutic method of treating diseases by using drugs focused on target molecules such as receptors or enzymes specifically related to each disease, Oriental Medicine is a systematic treatment based on consideration of a patient's homeostatic condition and environmental factors to determine a patient's well-being. In particular, Chinese herbs are one of the tools used for treatments in Oriental Medicine. Recent common diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease, and cancer are considered to be closely related to patients' life styles, and are expected to be diagnosed and be treated by "Westernized Kampo Medicine".
1-1-1 Tsushima-naka , Kita-ku ,
Okayama 700-8530, Japan
Planning and Public Information Division, Okayama University
About Okayama University
Okayama University is one of the largest comprehensive universities in Japan with roots going back to the Medical Training Place sponsored by the Lord of Okayama and established in 1870. Now with 1,300 faculty and 14,000 students, the University offers courses in specialties ranging from medicine and pharmacy to humanities and physical sciences. Okayama University is located in the heart of Japan approximately 3 hours west of Tokyo by Shinkansen.
This research is featured in the June 2014 issue of the Okayama University eBulletin: http://www.okayama-u.ac.jp/user/kouhou/ebulletin/
Source: Okayama University, Planning and Public Information Division
Cost-efficiently modernising heating networks
11.02.2016 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH
Demonstration of smart energy storage technologies and -management systems on the island of Borkum
11.02.2016 | Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum
Today, plants and microorganisms are heavily used for the production of medicinal products. The production of biopharmaceuticals in plants, also referred to as “Molecular Pharming”, represents a continuously growing field of plant biotechnology. Preferred host organisms include yeast and crop plants, such as maize and potato – plants with high demands. With the help of a special algal strain, the research team of Prof. Ralph Bock at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam strives to develop a more efficient and resource-saving system for the production of medicines and vaccines. They tested its practicality by synthesizing a component of a potential AIDS vaccine.
The use of plants and microorganisms to produce pharmaceuticals is nothing new. In 1982, bacteria were genetically modified to produce human insulin, a drug...
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock which attains an accuracy which had only been predicted theoretically so far. Their optical ytterbium clock achieved a relative systematic measurement uncertainty of 3 E-18. The results have been published in the current issue of the scientific journal "Physical Review Letters".
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock...
The University of Würzburg has two new space projects in the pipeline which are concerned with the observation of planets and autonomous fault correction aboard satellites. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy funds the projects with around 1.6 million euros.
Detecting tornadoes that sweep across Mars. Discovering meteors that fall to Earth. Investigating strange lightning that flashes from Earth's atmosphere into...
Physicists from Saarland University and the ESPCI in Paris have shown how liquids on solid surfaces can be made to slide over the surface a bit like a bobsleigh on ice. The key is to apply a coating at the boundary between the liquid and the surface that induces the liquid to slip. This results in an increase in the average flow velocity of the liquid and its throughput. This was demonstrated by studying the behaviour of droplets on surfaces with different coatings as they evolved into the equilibrium state. The results could prove useful in optimizing industrial processes, such as the extrusion of plastics.
The study has been published in the respected academic journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).
Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels
A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...
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