Iran reaches for new heights in medicine and science

Posted on February 24, 2012

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Iran unveiled a few new achievements in scientific and medical spheres.

Know-how: purifying non-potable water
Iranian researchers achieved know-how for purifying and softening non-potable water resources through membrane distillation. Saline water forms 97 percent of the earth water and the remaining 3 percent are available as surface water all of which lead to finding ways to reach potable water.

Nano-filtration and reverse osmosis membrane isolation systems were replaced by the old softening water methods including distillation systems due to excessive energy use, huge installations and other problems including storage and repair.

Reverse osmosis systems possessed different problems as well which lead to introducing the new generation of isolation methods which is a combination of traditional distillation and membrane isolation dubbed the process of membrane distillation.

The method uses less energy and is capable of using pure and renewable energies including solar energy which is available inside the country. Ease of increasing the capacity, not being sensitive on the sort and density of the existing salt in water, high quality and the possibility of installing the equipments in the regions that access to electricity or fossil-fuel is not possible are other benefits of the method.

Iranian scientists to develop non-carcinogenic medicine
Iranian researchers managed to discover the know-how for developing non-carcinogenic medicine of Letrozole industrially. The manager of the project, Dr Abbas Shafiei told ISNA that Letrozole is a non-steroidal inhibitor of aromatase which prevents androgens from changing to estrogen. The medicine approved by the FDA is used for different types of breast cancers.

The project seeks to meet domestic needs. The drug is produced whereas the raw material for generating the drug was imported from other countries, he added.

The Head of Research Center of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Tehran University of Medical Sciences added the raw material required for Letrozole is produced in the university industrially. Iran consumes 50 kg of the drug annually with each kilogram costs $20,000. Letrozole with the indigenously-made raw material will be available in the market in coming months.

Iranian engineer develops system to control wheelchair with tongue
An Iranian engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology (GIT) Maysam Ghovanloo has developed the “Tongue Drive System” (TDS), a wireless, wearable device that allows the user to operate computers and control electric wheelchairs with movements of the tongue.

For those unfortunate enough to suffer from severe spinal cord injuries, the tongue is often the only extremity still under their control. To take advantage of this fact, engineers at the GIT have developed the TDS.

The latest iteration, which resembles a sensor-studded dental retainer, is controlled by a tongue-mounted magnet and promises its users a welcome new level of autonomy with both communication and transportation.

Previous versions of the TDS featured an externally-worn headset that tracked movements of the tongue-mounted magnet. Unfortunately, any shift of the headset meant the whole system had to be recalibrated. Maysam Ghovanloo, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at GIT explains how they leaped that hurdle.

“By moving the sensors inside the mouth, we have created a Tongue Drive System with increased mechanical stability and comfort that is nearly unnoticeable,” he said.

“Because the dental appliance is worn inside the mouth and molded from dental impressions to fit tightly around an individual’s teeth with clasps, it is protected from these types of disturbances,” Ghovanloo added.

The new TDS configuration sports magnetic field sensors on each of its four corners which detect movements in the tongue-mounted magnet. Output from the sensors is then wirelessly beamed to special app-equipped iPods or iPhones which decipher the user’s intended commands in real-time by ascertaining the tongue magnet’s position relative to the other sensors.

That data can then drive a computer’s cursor or double for the joystick control of an electric wheelchair. A tiny rechargeable lithium-ion cell powers the entire unit, which is covered with water-resistant insulation and vacuum molded into a custom-made dental-acrylic appliance.

Over the past several months, the GIT team recruited several initial test subjects with appreciable spinal cord damage to try out the headset TDS configuration. Presumably, the biggest hurdle for the participants was the mandatory clinical tongue piercing each received to affix the magnet-topped stud, but in spite of the need for occasional unit calibration, the concept proved sound.

“During the trials, users have been able to learn to use the system, move the computer cursor quicker and with more accuracy, and maneuver through the obstacle course faster and with fewer collisions,” said Ghovanloo.

“We expect even better results in the future when trial participants begin to use the intraoral Tongue Drive System on a daily basis,” he noted.

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