Cystic fibrosis links to diabetes

Researchers from Hong Kong, Chengdu, Beijing and Tokyo recently reported a functional link between diabetes and cystic fibrosis.

Cystic fibrosis occurs when mutations in the CFTR gene hamper the function of the Cystic Fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator. This leads to a “tough mucus” secretion in the lungs, and its most acute symptoms are therefore shortness of breath. Indigestion is also a serious symptom, as organs in and around the gastrointestinal tract are affected as well. Without proper management, the respiratory and metabolic consequences of this disease are fatal at young age.

Despite the high frequency of diabetes in adult cystic fibrosis patients, the relationship between the two diseases is still hardly understood. Now, a consortium of Chinese/Japanese institutes has shown that the conductance regulator also regulates glucose-dependent electrical signaling in insulin-producing Beta cells. In other words, defects in the gene that lead to problems in mucus secretion also affect insulin secretion. As most Cystic Fibrosis patients develop insulin deficiency (belonging to the Type I Diabetes category), this finding indeed resolved an important missing link.

Whether the new insights also lead to new treatment options is not clear yet. The investigators have been able to focus at one specific gene mutant. Extrapolating their findings to known >1900 mutations in the Cystic Fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene in humans is a daunting task. Nevertheless, in their mice model, they have not witnessed a destruction of pancreatic islets, where the Beta cells are located that produce insulin. If in patients, insulin secretion would also be decreased before islet are destroyed, timely anticipation could potentially provide leads to effective non-invasive treatment options.

A summary of the paper has been published here.

Cystic Fibrosis organs - from Wikipedia

Airbus and COMAC cooperate on sustainable air transport


On Friday February 21st, Airbus and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) announced both aircraft manufacturers will collaborate on sustainable growth in air transport. The scope of their collaboration will however extend beyond the aircraft itself. Under the Memorandum of Understanding, signed by Günter Butschek, Airbus Chief Operating Officer and He Dongfeng, President of COMAC, they will “share best practices and identify improvements required by current ATM technology roadmaps both on-board the aircraft and on the ground to foster safer, more efficient and sustainable air traffic operations.”

This results in for instance optimised take-off, landing and taxiing procedures that reduce emissions, and noise as well as shortened travelling times for passengers. In 2012, COMAC also signed an agreement with Boeing to jointly conduct research on aircraft fuel efficiency and reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions.

COMAC is China’s leading civil aircraft manufacturing. Its C919 will be competing with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 family of aircraft. The c919 is expected to be delivered in 2017, which is several years after the upgraded and re-engined A320neo and Boeing 737 Max enter into service.

More info to be found on the Airbus website.

University of Groningen enhances collaboration with BUCT

RuG visit photo2On 8th August, a delegation from University of Groningen (RUG), led by RUG president Prof. Sibrand Poppema, visited the Beijing University of Chemical Technology (BUCT). Prof. Folkert Kuipers, head of Medical School and vice president of University Medical Centre, Ms. Xuefei-Knoester Cao, Senior Policy Advisor and Director of Groningen Confucius Institute joined the delegation to discuss collaboration possibilities with BUCT.

Prof. Chen Dongsheng, the vice president of BUCT extended warm welcome to the delegation. After an introduction on both universities, the possibilities of collaboration on joint degree, research and teaching among faculties of two institutions were discussed. Both universities agreed that there were many potentials and favorable conditions for education and research collaboration in pharmacy, chemistry, chemical engineering, material science and other fields and would further strengthen communication between the two institutions. A Memorandum of Understanding between BUCT and RUG was signed during the meeting.


China announces 9 pilot Smart Cities

Sim City

The National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation (NASG, formerly known as SBSM) yesterday announced a Smart City pilot program with nine cities throughout China.

The nine cities mentioned are Taiyuan, Guangzhou, Xuzhou, Wuxi, Linyi, Zibo, Zhengzhou, Henan, Chongqing, and Huhan. Li Weisen, deputy director of NASG believes that “the first nine cities are expected to finish Smart City construction within about three years”. Every pilot city will reportedly invest more than CNY 36 mln yuan in the program each year.

The Smart City program aims to solve current urban challenges such as traffic congestion and pollution through the use of technology in the design and operation of infrastructure and buildings.

Although the source article (China Daily) does not mention specific details, the fact that the NASG is behind this pilot program leads one to believe that the geospatial information infrastructure will play an important role in the aforementioned cities. This is confirmed in this Chinese language news article on NASG’s website.

Earlier this year NASG signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Dutch Kadaster in which both parties agreed to explore collaboration on geo-information (see earlier post here).

Chinese Government Invested 200 million RMB in Setting up 3D Printing Research Institute

cemB145UBlbtIThe 3D Printing Research Institute of China was launched on August 8th 2013 at Zijin Hightech Zone of the Nanjing city, Jiangsu Province. The Institute is planned to carry out applied 3D printing research and seek for opportunities for its commercialization and industrialization.

The Institute will combine forces of some best Chinese 3D printing research teams from Tsinghua University, Xian Jiaotong University, Northwestern Polytechnic University and Central China University of Science and Technology. Chinese Academy of Engineering Academician Prof. Lu Bingheng will work as the Project Coordinator. Research will focus on 3D printing technology, equipment, materials, applications in various fields including medicine, civil aviation, aerospace technology, automotive industry and biological manufacturing. The aim is to build China’s 3D printing leading force and forester a group of companies around the industry.

The institute will be none-profit public research entity with 200 million RMB investments from the government in its first phase.