China-US Joint Liver Center
A ceremony was jointly staged by Zhejiang University School of Medicine No. 1 Hospital and the UCLA Medical Center on June 2, 2011 to undersign a cooperation accord, and put a joint liver center into operation. This is the first time that the UCLA Medical Center selected a global partner. UCLA Vice Chancellor Eugene Washington sent his video congratulations to the ceremony, wishing the new center making its contribution to human health through a full range in-depth cooperation.
A liver transplant team, led by ZHENG Shusen, a CAE academician working for Zhejiang University School of Medicine No. 1 Hospital, has completed some 1,000 liver transplant surgeries, secured a benign end-stage 1 year survival rate of 95.2%, an internationally advanced record. The medical institution is currently the largest organ transplant center in the country. ZHENG said the two institutions will work on the medical techniques and tools for treating liver diseases, and basic pathology, through in-depth research and knowledge sharing. Personnel exchange is also part of the project.
Nanomaterials Convertible from Hard to Soft
Scientists from Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Metal Research, the Technical University of Hamburg, and the Helmholtz Center Geesthacht have developed a magic material that can change its strength, virtually at the touch of a button, from friable hard to elastic soft. The property can be changed by electrical signals. The finding was published in the recent issue of Science.
Researchers put precious metals such as gold or platinum into an acid solution for corrosion, allowing tiny ducts and pores being formed in the materials. Then, they poured nano-structured materials into the framework made up of minute ducts and pores, and instilled conductive liquid (such as salt solution or weak acid solution) into every tiny pores, making it a hybrid of metal and liquid.
Researchers called it the union of metal and water which, when triggered by an electric signal, enables the properties of the material to change at the touch of a button. The effect can be a strengthened or weakened atomic bonding in the surface of the metal when extra electrons are added to or withdrawn from the surface atoms. The strength of the material can be as much as doubled when required. Alternatively, the material can be switched to a state which is weaker, but more damage tolerant, energy-absorbing, and malleable.
Researchers said the novel material can switch back and forth from hard to soft. It generates electric signals either spontaneously or selectively, so as to strengthen the matter in the region having a local stress. Damages, for instance, in the form of cracks, could thereby be prevented or even healed.
Space Technology for Heritage Conservation
On June 2, 2011, CAS President BAI Chunli signed on behalf of the Chinese government an accord to establish an international space technology center for the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, the first of its kind established by UNESCO. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova had signed the accord on behalf of UNESCO on May 27, 2011.
UNESCO and other international organizations initiated in 2001 an open program to protect world natural and cultural heritages using space information technology. In the same year, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Ministry of Education, and the State Administration of Cultural Heritages jointly established a Laboratory of Remote Sensing Archaeology. The Lab became part of the open program in 2005. The Chinese Academy of Sciences submitted a proposal in May 2007 to UNESCO, asking to establish an international space technology center for the conservation of natural and cultural heritage in Beijing, which was supported by UNESCO. The proposal was endorsed in April 2008 by the 179th UNESCO Executive Board meeting, and was further confirmed in October 2009 by the 35th UNESCO General Assembly. The Chinese State Council formally approved the proposal on April 2011.
Taking advantage of the Earth observing capabilities and professional resources possessed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences Earth Observation and Digital Earth Center, the new center will provide a major technical support to UNESCO.
Possible Origins of Deadly E. Coli
According to the latest findings released by Beijing Genomics Institute (Shenzhen) on June 5, the pathogen that led to the deadly E. Coli outbreak in Europe was originated from the intestinal hemorrhagic Escherichia coli separated in Germany in 2001. Researchers found through a multiple-site sequencing that the strains have shown a high degree of similarity, compared with the 01-09591 strains separated in 2001 in Germany and the 55989 strains separated in 2002 in Central Africa. The three strains share seven completely identical "housekeeping genes" (the genes maintaining the cells essential functions), which made researchers conclude that the three colorectal bacteria belong to the same type (ST678).
Based on the discovery, researchers further tracked down the source of the outbreak. A virulence/adaptation analysis of 12 E. Coli strains led to a new finding indicating that the strains causing the deadly E. coli outbreak this year are completely identical to the one separated in 2001 in Germany. Meanwhile, a comparison between the African strains and the two German strains indicated the missing of Shiga toxin gene and anti-subtellurite genes. Researchers believed that the strains separated in 2001 in Germany could probably be a direct ancestor of the strains causing the outbreak. Antibiotic resistance tests further showed that the decade long evolution has empowered the strains appeared in 2011 with some new genes that are more resistant to antibiotics.
Researchers said that strain genome comparison can further clarify the greatly enhanced pathogenicity of the epidemic strains, providing tips for the possible origin, transmission, and sources of the disease, allowing people to curb the global spread of the disease in a more effective manner.